Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!”
“Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
How do you get someone’s attention?
In elementary school, we raised our hands. But some added to the bland hand raising by sitting up straight, with our arms up straight, all fingers together while pointing up to the sky. Some kids added arm waiving while others rocked back and forth in their chair. The more desperate kids added a symphony of “Ooo’s” or “Me, me.”
And then there were us professionals who had elevated hand raising to an art form. We were way too cool for all the antics of the amateurs. We had a more subtle approach. Less energy wasted and replaced with more of a hip vibe. We slouched and sort of barely raised our arms while we stared out into space, with a far-away blank facial expression.
This is where we find Peter, trying to get Jesus’ attention. But instead of raising his hand with frantic “Ooo, ooo. Look here Jesus. Listen to me Jesus. Pay attention to me Jesus,” Peter does something entirely different.
Peter uses another ploy. He tries the old guilt approach. Look at what we’ve done Jesus. Look at what we’ve given up. And now we’re following you. We gave up fishing, tax collecting, our careers, everything that we had put our hopes and dreams into.
Even though the disciples had left everything, I wonder if they were living life while looking over their shoulders. Were they still thinking about their past lives: the stability, friends, neighbors, families? They had a secure place in their extended family and community. Now they’re following a minor rabbi around in a minor province of the Roman empire. How could anything big or substantial come from this?
I wonder if the words, “So Jesus, what do we get out of this? More importantly, what do I get out of this?” passed through their minds?
And Jesus reacts like any good financial counselor. His advice is invest for the long-term. Don’t look for immediate increase, benefits, or blessings today. Look forward to the long-term.
Jesus says that there may be rewards in this life, but he doesn’t stop there. He adds that along with the blessings there will be persecutions.
Now wait a minute Jesus. We were with you when you talked about the hundred-fold increase. But then you added that whole persecution thing. Not cool, Jesus.
Which brings up the question, how are we living our lives? Do we have our “eye on the prize” in the future or are we so consumed to receive it right now? Do we want to claim the benefit now or are we willing to wait till it’s mature?
So much of life in the 21st century is focused on immediate returns. It’s what we can get now. We want the money now. We want the blessing now. We want to be waited on now.
But Jesus has a very different calendar for repayment. He has a very different timeframe.
If we take our reward now, there will be nothing in the future. But if we leave it in till Jesus says it’s time, well that’s another story altogether.
God had a great and glorious plan for us. In this life we meet him and live daily for him. We also get the opportunity to leave things behind for him. We also get to feel pain during our life. Both have special, long-term returns. Remember, there is no leaving or pain in eternity, they’re among the few things that we get to do only here on earth.
These eternal investments are only available to us for a short time. So, we need to take advantage of them while we’re on this planet. In this life. We shouldn’t look at them like they’re a punishment or even an inconvenience.
No, they are an everlasting opportunity to invest for all of eternity, where the returns are astronomical. They never fade or fail. There are no robbers in heaven to steal them. There are no scammers or hackers in the next life to take them away.
This is all about people who have already followed Jesus. Their eternal destiny is set, but not their rewards. So, live your life like your eternity is connected to it. Because it is.